Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about an appointment or our other services? We may have the answer for you right here! If not, feel free to contact us

How do I make an appointment?

Although we share many common goals with our friends at CMU's Intercultural Communication Center (ICC), our organizations have different purposes. While we focus on individual communication projects for CMU undergrads, grads, and staff, the ICC focuses on communication and cultural support for international students, especially non-native English speakers. 

So how do our purposes differ from the ICC's? Specifically, we:

  • Advise all members of the CMU community, including both native and non-native English speakers
  • Offer one-on-one sessions rather than classes as our main mode of support, although both the GCC and ICC hold workshops and individual appointments
  • Advance your academic and professional goals on a session-by-session basis, rather than upholding support throughout the semster for international educators and students.

If you are a non-native English speaker looking for language and cultural fluency, the ICC may be the resource for you. Additionally, it is often helpful to use both the GCC's and ICC's services in tandem! To find out more, visit the ICC's website.

Our appointments page has basic information to get you started. However, more detailed information is below:

How do I fill out the appointment form?

1) Go to the GCC Online Scheduler.
2) Next, click on the type of appointment you would like to have: in-person, virtual, or video.
3) You will then be asked to choose what type of material you are working on. Examples include "Applications" or "Oral Presentations."
4) Then, select either "Choose by time" or select a tutor's name to see their availability.
5) Finally, answer the rest of the questions on the form, making sure to be specific about your goals for the session. You may upload any documents at this time too.

What if I have to cancel my appointment?

Canceling your appointment is fine. However, please call us at +1 (412) 268-9633 to notify us of the cancellation. You can also cancel your appointment on the scheduler, or through the confirmation email you received from us. Please cancel your appointment at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time. It is very important to us to serve as many students as possible.  If you cancel an appointment without notice, you are taking up a resource that other students can be using. Therefore, an appointment canceled less than 15 minutes before the scheduled time will be counted as a no-show.  After two no-shows, students will be blocked from scheduling further appointments until they talk to the GCC Director.

Can I come late to my appointment?

No, students cannot come late to an appointment. It is important to us that we serve as many students as possible. When students show up late to an appointment, it is misusing the tutor's time and resources as well as taking that appointment away from other students. If you know you will be late when scheduling an appointment with the GCC, please schedule during a time period where your are available for 50 minutes. If you do schedule for an appointment and you are 15 minutes late to that appointment, you will be marked as a no-show. After two no-shows, students will be blocked from scheduling further appointments until they talk to the GCC Director.

Is there a maximum number of appointments I can make per day? Per week? 

Our scheduler limits students to 1 appointment per day and 2 appointments per week so that we can serve as many students as possible. However, if we have availability we can manually schedule an additional appointment for students who email us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.We encourage students to make appointments that they will realistically attend, so as not to deprive others of the opportunity to schedule appointments. Along with this, students are only allowed to have one user account with us on our online scheduler.

Will you review work that is not part of a classroom assignment?

Yes, we can review work that is not part of a classroom assignment including personal statements, application letters, journal articles, grant proposals and conference papers.

Can a GCC tutor review a piece of writing that is not my own?

While we understand that your friends or colleagues may be unable to come to the GCC on their own, we will not review a piece of writing if it is not written by the student who made the appointment.

Can I make a walk-in appointment?

We welcome walk-in appointments as long as we have openings available! Please note that our tutors need at least 15 minutes to prepare for your session.  If you walk in, we will ask you to register for a GCC account and upload materials pertaining to your assignment.  These materials will provide information for our records and will ensure that you receive follow-up emails describing what was covered in the session and providing advice for your next steps.  You are welcome to get a cup of coffee, check your email, or do other work while you wait for your tutor to prepare. Walk-ins should plan to spend at least 70 minutes in the GCC, uploading information, waiting for their tutor to prepare, and participating in the 50-minute tutoring session.

Check our schedule

Can I make an appointment for advice on how to manage a team project or how to communicate with my team members?

Yes. Since not all of our tutors have expertise in team communication, email us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu to arrange an appointment to talk about team communication.

The GCC also offers group tutoring appointments. Simply select "Team Projects" on our scheduler  and fill out the appointment form to reserve one. We ask you to please book these kinds of appointments at least 24 hours in advance of your session, in order to secure the best space for your group. 

What if I want a longer appointment?

If you'd like to request a longer appointment, please contact the GCC directly at GCCCMU@andrew.cmu.edu 

Typically, yes. We will take walk-in appointments, but only if there is availability in our schedule. Our Facebook and Twitter pages and front desk will advertise if we are taking walk-in appointments.

How do I attach my draft to my appointment form?

You can attach your documents in the appointment form's second section, "Your Information." Near the bottom of the form, there are buttons to upload up to two documents you wish to workshop, along with buttons for any rubrics, prompts, and model essays, if they are necessary to include. There is a 5MB file size limit for each upload. 

Shows how to upload a draft

You don't have to upload your documents right away. If you are still working on your draft, you can select "I will attach it later" when prompted (as shown above). You can upload documents no later than two hours before your session's scheduled start time by registering for an account on our scheduler and logging in, or by accessing your confirmation email from the GCC.

If you experience any difficulty in attaching documents to your appointment please email the GCC at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.

I need to attach my draft 2 hours before the session?

The tutor spends time preparing for your session prior to your arrival. During this time, the tutor becomes acquainted with your work and negotiates it with the other submitted documents (prompt, rubric, and/or model essay). Submitting your draft ahead of time ensures that your session is as beneficial and productive as possible.
    *Please note: If you fail to submit your draft at least 2 hours ahead of time, the tutor will need to allot 15 minutes at the beginning of your session to prepare. Therefore, your session time will not be the full 50 minutes.*

Should I attach the instructor’s prompt and rubric?

Absolutely! 
Prompt:
 Attaching the prompt allows the tutor to read and interpret the instructor’s expectations of the assignment. This gives the tutor an understanding of the purpose of the paper, its specific requirements (such as page length, citation method, etc.) what concepts it should include, and/or what questions it should answer.
Rubric: Attaching the rubric allows the tutor to see the instructor’s grading procedure and on what criteria the assignment will be judged.

What is a model essay?

A model essay is a paper that has satisfactorily fulfilled the requirements of an assignment.  Ask your professor for an example of a paper that he/she considers an effective response to a prompt.  If your professor is unable to provide a model essay, writing center websites at many colleges and universities often provide examples of papers written in certain disciplines.

Can I make an appointment even if I don't have a written draft to attach?

Yes. At the GCC, our tutors can help you during any stage of the writing process, including brainstorming and free writing. This means that you can come in with just the ideas in your head and use the session time as an opportunity to “talk it out” with a tutor.  Research shows that effective planning can be just as important to the writing process as the actual drafting.

Zoom is similar to other videochat applications like Skype and Google Hangouts, so if you have familiarity with those, there shouldn't be many surprises. If you've never used any videochat applications, that's ok! All you'll need to ensure a successful session is a stable internet connection and a reliable computer with a microphone and camera. We'll take care of most everything else. Here's what you need to do.

Upload your draft like you would in a regular session

The previous question on this page ("How do I attach my draft?")  has detailed instructions to help you. The main difference is you will select "Virtual Session" as your appointment. 

Before the appointment starts, find someplace quiet with strong WiFi

As you set up, your tutor will be hard at work reading your draft and creating a virtual meeting room. It's useful at this point to check your microphone levels and camera functionality. 

About 10 minutes before the session starts, accept your tutor's Zoom invitation

Using the email you provided during session sign-up, your tutor will send you a request to join a Zoom meeting. After you click the link to accept, you will join the meeting. You may be prompted to download Zoom, especially if you have not already done so. However, you do not need to sign up for a Zoom account to download the application. 

During the session, make sure your camera, microphone, and screen-sharing settings are optimal

Once you successfully enter the meeting, your screen may look something like this:

Keep in mind that, without hosting the meeting, you may not have every option shown on the picture above. You should also see your tutor's image at this point. 

Once all parties are connected, the session should proceed similar to a face-to-face meeting. Remember to check your camera and microphone settings to ensure the most seamless experience. You can do this by clicking the up arrow next to either the microphone or camera at the bottom of your screen:

You also have the ability to share your screen with your tutor. To do this, click on the "Share" icon in the center of the bottom toolbar. 

Any student, faculty, or staff at CMU can schedule an appointment.  Each session is 50 minutes long, and tailored to meet the needs expressed by the client. Our tutors allow the last 5-10 minutes to be spent on drafting a revision plan.  This revision plan is made in response to the information covered in the session and serves as a pointed guide to help implement effective, personalized strategies in the subsequent stages of the writing process. For detailed instructions about scheduling an appointment, please see the question "How do I make an appointment?" on this page, or visit the Make an Appointment page.

After scheduling an appointment, and uploading any drafts and assignment prompts two hours before your appointment time, you can expect the following:

  • A 50 minute personalized consultation with a trained GCC consultant: 
    • Your GCC consultant will go over the agenda with you at the beginning of your session to make sure they address your concerns (which you should define in the "communication goals" question when booking your appointment). In most cases, the consultant will prioritize specific sections of your project that need the most attention, especially if you have a particularly lengthy project. 
    • You and your consultant will discuss the project. They will ask questions to make sure the advice they give you is the best advice possible.
    • Your GCC consultant will suggest revisions, give instruction, and explain principles that will improve your overall communication skills and your project.
    • The primary goal of your appointment is to clarify your ideas, and arguments. Once those are clearly defined, your consultant can then focus on things like grammatical errors.  
    • You and your consultant will take 5-10 minutes to recap what you've discussed during the session, and create a revision plan.
    • You will be emailed a session report which will contain your revision plan and other topics discussed in your session after it has ended.
If you submit a lengthy paper, your tutor will work on specific sections. Let your tutor know if there are specific areas you would like to focus on when you fill out the questions while booking your appointment. We will always discuss the agenda before we begin.

What workshops do you offer?

The GCC routinely offers workshops on a variety of communication topics, including Designing Effective PowerPoint presentations, Team Communication, Designing Scientific Posters, and Email Communication.  Other workshops we have given include Writing Literature reviews, Introducing your project, Preparing Grant Proposals, Writing about Data, and Gender and Communication.  Find out more about upcoming workshops by visiting our Workshops page.

How can I receive notifications of upcoming workshops?

If you create an account on our appointment server and opt to receive email notifications, you will be added to our email distribution list.  We send emails approximately every 2-3 weeks during the semester with notifications about new workshops and opportunities.  You can also keep posted of upcoming events by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

How can I request a workshop for my class, department or group?

If you have a group with need for a particular workshop (for instance, students in your department would like advice on preparing research posters for an upcoming conference), contact us at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu and let us know about your need.  Depending on your numbers and need, we can create a workshop tailored specifically for your group, or we can offer a general workshop at a time and place convenient for your students.

If you are an instructor who would like to have a workshop during your class time, email us directly with your request at gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.

Why is the Global Communication Center called the Global Communication Center?

Carnegie Mellon University is a “global” institution. This means that CMU has a student body that is culturally, linguistically, and academically diverse. However, the word “global” also signifies that the research conducted at CMU has a profound impact on our global society, from science and technology to arts and the humanities. Therefore, our unique institution needs a writing center that helps CMU students communicate their world-changing ideas through multiple modes of communication – written, visual and oral – in cross-cultural, global contexts. Thus, we are called the Global Communication Center because our tutors meet the communication needs of diverse students who have equally diverse audiences.

I am interested in tutoring for the GCC. How do I apply?

We hire tutors in the Spring for the following academic year.  All of our tutors must take an intensive, semester-long practicum on tutoring (9 units) that is only offered in the Fall semester.  (One exception: Ph.D. students with previous experience teaching writing can petition to instead take a 6 unit independent study on tutoring.).  Most of our tutors work 5-10 hours per week.  If you are interested in tutoring and are available to take the tutoring practicum in the Fall, send an email expressing your interest to gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.  We will contact you with our application procedures when we begin the application cycle in early March.

Where is the GCC?

The GCC is located on the first floor of Hunt Library. Walk in Hunt Library, turn left, and continue past the circulation desk (we share a desk with Reference & Information). 

How do I contact the GCC?

Address: 
Global Communication Center 
Hunt Library 1st floor 
4909 Frew St 
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: (412) 268-9633
Email: GCCcmu@andrew.cmu.edu
Facebook: www.facebook.com/globalcommunicationcenter
Twitter: 
www.twitter.com/GCCcmu

Our Philosophy

Communication simply means to convey an idea to someone else, so a "Communication Project" is anything that delivers an idea to someone else - for example: a written resume or paper, visual poster or PowerPoint, or verbal presentation or speech. Since we equip our clients with learnable-principles, we're not limited to specific project types. Your project does not have to be related to coursework - If it's written, visual, or verbal, chances are, we can help.

For more specific examples, please visit the page that most appropriately describes your status at CMU: 

Undergrad Students   Grad Students   Faculty or Staff

We believe that we can best serve our clients if we focus on the clarity of their ideas, arguments, and research contributions.  Sometimes this involves grammatical issues, but often it is a matter of understanding the conventions and principles of academic writing. We are confident that focusing on such learnable principles will make a greater impact on writing than focusing on correctness. The English language is extremely complex, and many rules can only be acquired through repeated practice and years of immersion in the culture – not a 50-minute session! Thus, editing for minor grammar errors, which do not interfere with reader comprehension, is not as fundamental as revising the logic and clarity of the text.

However, the GCC can help you gain grammatical knowledge. Clients seeking to improve their grammar often make several sessions for the same document to first resolve any high-level issues, then to address sentence-level issues. We're proud of our work, but please do not assume you'll leave your first GCC session with a grammatically flawless paper!

Who We Serve

Any undergrad or grad student, alumni, visiting scholar, faculty, or staff of Carnegie Mellon University can use the GCC's one-on-one consulting appointments, and workshops. 

Alumni, visiting scholars, faculty, and staff all are welcome to use the GCC services but have to make same-day appointments.

A "same-day appointment" means that you can schedule your appointment beginning at 8am on the day you wish to come in. Our funding is primarily for undergrad and grad students, so this allows students to have priority in our schedule. 

For more information on specific services for you, click the links below: 

Undergrad Students    Grad Students   Faculty, Staff and Alumni

Although we share many common goals with our friends at CMU's Intercultural Communication Center (ICC), our organizations have different purposes. While we focus on individual communication projects for CMU undergrads, grads, and staff, the ICC focuses on communication and cultural support for international students, especially non-native English speakers. 

So how do our purposes differ from the ICC's? Specifically, we:

  • Advise all members of the CMU community, including both native and non-native English speakers
  • Offer one-on-one sessions rather than classes as our main mode of support, although both the GCC and ICC hold workshops and individual appointments
  • Advance your academic and professional goals on a session-by-session basis, rather than upholding support throughout the semster for international educators and students.

If you are a non-native English speaker looking for language and cultural fluency, the ICC may be the resource for you. Additionally, it is often helpful to use both the GCC's and ICC's services in tandem! To find out more, visit the ICC's website.